Native American Heritage Month 2019!

In honor of Native American Heritage Month, let’s take a look back on an incredible student group during the 1970s.

The newspaper clippings in this post are from the 1970s and may contain outdated language.

In the early 1970s, the United Native American Student Association (UNASA) was formed at Iowa State University. The group was intended to provide a voice for Native American students on campus, and educate the university and Ames about their culture.

Iowa State Daily Article from 12/4/75

Throughout the 70s, this group accomplished many things. They organized tutoring for children on the Mesquakie Reservation, lobbied Iowa State to introduce more courses to integrate Native American heritage, and sponsored symposiums on Native American affairs at ISU.

In 1975, at the first fall cultural program of the UNASA, Gerald Sitting Eagle from Old Sun College in Alberta, Canada, performed some traditional hoop dances. The following article gives more information on what sounds like an incredible performance.

In the article above, Gerald Sitting Eagle share this powerful quote: “I am proud to be dressed like this. I am proud of the color of my skin. I am proud to live on a reserve. I am proud of whatever I do because I stand equal with any man.”

Everything in this post can be found in box 2 of the RS 22/03/00/01 collection.

Make sure to check out some of our previous posts on this topic as well!


#FashionFriday: 1800-1810

Mary A. Barton, an Iowa State Alumni, has been regarded as one of the best quilt makers of all time. Special Collections now stores her collection of fashion illustrations from years 1776 – 2008. I was very excited to explore this collection, and share some highlights with you all. However, due to the massive amount of these gorgeous fashion illustrations, I’ve decided to focus this blog post only on the ones from 1800-1810. Of course, there are still so many lovely illustrations from this ten-year period that this post will be featuring just a few of my favorites.

All of the materials in this post can be found in box 1 of the Mary A. Barton Fashion Illustration Collection, RS 21/7/9. Feel free to stop into the reading room to view these incredible artifacts, and many more, in person. Or view some of the digitized fashion images from this collection in our digital collections.

Additionally, we have posted a few other things from this collection, so check out those posts as well.


Weird, Wacky, Wonderful: Promenaders

If you were a student at Iowa State College in 1953, one of the many activities you could take part in was square dancing! The group was known as the Promenaders.

Students engaged in a square dance.
University Photos, Box 1668, Folder 7
“Members of Promenaders practicing before going to Square Dancing Convention in Chicago.”
University Photos, Box 1668, Folder 7

As of this writing, I do not know anything more about the Square Dancing Convention in Chicago, but I’m sure it would be really interesting to learn more!

Couples dancing.
University Photos, Box 1668, Folder 7

It looks like the Promenaders were having a great time! College is a time of exploration, and we have records for many of the unique and interesting clubs that have been available over the years. Have a particular club you want to learn more about? Come visit us in the archives on the 4th floor of Parks Library!


#FloralAndFaunaFriday – Feeding Swans (1937)

Let us travel back in time to a lovely afternoon on June 17, 1937. The first image shown here depicts a group of girls, from a 4-H program, feeding Lancelot & Elaine by Lake LaVerne. The second photo is of a single girl, who is identified on the back of the photograph as ‘Mary Ellen Wendel of Branson, IA’. Mary Ellen Wendel is shown feeding one swan while the other looks on in envy. I hope the other swan got fed too!

Both of these images can be found in University Photographs box 383.


#WomenOnWednesdays – Taking the Road Less Traveled Conference

On April 4th, 1987, Iowa State University hosted it’s first “Taking the Road Less Traveled: Science, Math, Engineering and Technology” Conference for Girls Grades 6-12. The 1987 conference was proposed and organized by the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center. Iowa State’s event drew inspiration from a similar conference for women in STEM fields at Western Michigan University, which had taken place the year prior. The conference was much more popular than anticipated, with an expected turnout of 200 participants compared to the actual 600 that showed up. The goal of this conference was to educate young women, parents, and educators on how women can be successful in fields related to science, engineering, and math.

One way they sought to achieve this goal was by exposing the girls to successful women in STEM career fields, along with providing information about the types of classes they should take in high school to prepare for a college program in these fields. I found it very interesting that the conference also provided information on programs from several other universities, and not just the ones available at Iowa State. To me, including information about other options for the girls shows the organizer’s commitment to giving the girls at the conference an overall look at all their options, rather than simply attempting to get more students to attend the university.

Image from RS 3/10/4 Box 1

The above image depicts an advertisement brochure promoting engineering programs at Iowa State, and can be found in collection RS 3/10/4 Box 1. In that same box there are also letters from speakers and mentors who were present at this event, and future events like it, all relaying how much they enjoyed the experience, and several inquiring about future opportunities. A great deal of effort went into organizing and running this conference, and it appeared to be very successful. This incredible event was made possible by funds provided by a Carl Perkins Vocational Education Grant from the Iowa Department of Education.


Welcome Greg Bailey, University Archivist

Special Collections & University Archives is happy to welcome aboard Greg Bailey as Iowa State’s new University Archivist. Greg comes to us from Texas A&M, where he served as University Archivist and Clements Curator for the Cushing Library for five years. As University Archivist, Greg was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the university archives and related collections and served as the primary spokesperson for Texas A&M history.  As Clements Curator, he was responsible for the papers of two term Governor William P. Clements. Prior to his time at Texas A&M, Greg was the University Archivist and Records Manager at Stephen F. Austin State University for three years.  

Greg received his BA in History with minors in Geography and Political Science from Eastern Illinois University and his MLIS with a specialization in archives and records management from Indiana University—Bloomington. 

Greg’s professional contributions include service on SAA’s College and University Archivist Section Steering Committee, as well as SAA’s Mentoring Sub-Committee. He also served as the Vice Chair Brazos County Historical Commission, which works to ensure the preservation of historic buildings, sites, artifacts, documents and other important pieces of Texas history. In addition, Greg served as the Vice Chair of Brazos County World War I Centennial Committee and was the Lead Contact of the Bryan/College Station area for the Texas World War I Centennial Commemoration. 

In his free time, Greg enjoys playing soccer and riding his motorcycle.

Greg Bailey, courtesy of Greg Bailey

Tricks, Treats, or Both? Maggot Rice Krispies, Chocolate “Chirpie” Cookies, and the ISU Entomology Club

After all of you Halloween zombies out there have feasted on blood and brains, can I tempt you with a nice chocolate-covered grasshopper, or maybe some mealworm banana bread, for dessert? No, really! Just scroll down, and you’ll see I’ve included the recipes.

In 1992, the ISU Entomology Club made national headlines for a component of its annual Insect Horror Film Festival when students Julie Stephens and Kathy Gee took their entomological desserts on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

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The Entomology Club had been a fixture on the ISU campus since the 1970s. I’ve included the covers from some of their early newsletters below.

However, the Insect Horror Film Festival seems to have been a new development in their programming in the early 1990s — though its subsequent popularity was undoubtedly helped along almost as much by the national recognition as by the prospect of a “petting zoo,” a lecture on forensic pathology (i.e. the science of human corpse erosion), and the alluring snacks.

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As far as I can tell, the Insect Horror Film Festival was discontinued at ISU around 2005* [see end note for correction], though not before it was featured in travel guidebooks and inspired similar programs in numerous other Entomology departments around the country. It also certainly made an impression on young guests who attended.

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And here, as promised, are some of the tasty recipes reproduced in the Ames Tribune, along with a helpful guide for acquiring and preparing the insects.

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If you forgot to pick up candy for trick-or-treating this year, now you know what to hand out to the kids!

*UPDATE: This blog posts speculates, based on current archival holdings, that the Insect Horror Film Festival was discontinued in the mid-2000s. However, Entomology has since let us know that this program, under a slightly different name, is still going strong today! For more information, check out their department’s event calendar archive and/or the Reiman Gardens event calendar.


1995 – 1999: Trumpeter Swans

Lancelot and Elaine have been an Iowa State tradition since 1935, when a pair of white swans was introduced during Veisha. The history of each generation of these majestic creatures is well chronicled throughout the University Archives (open to students and members of the community, if anyone is interested in further research). One story I find especially interesting is the brief period from 1995 to 1999, when a change to the species of swan kept in Lake LaVerne backfired spectacularly.

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ISU trumpeter swans have ‘no sense of fear’ article.

In 1995, as part of an effort to rebuild Iowa’s trumpeter swan population, the new edition of Lancelot & Elaine came in the form of trumpeter swans. However, the trumpeter swans caused a lot more trouble than the mute swans that had previously occupied the lake. The trumpeter swans proved to have no fear of students, nor oncoming traffic. The swans regularly ventured away from Lake LaVerne and wandered all around campus, creating more than a few hazards.

In 1999, the decision was made to remove the Trumpeter swans from campus due to the fact they had not been able to acclimate to the environment. The decision to remove the trumpeter swans from Iowa State is explained in more detail in the internal memo from August 27th, 1999, which is shown below.

Sounds like relocating the trumpeter swans and bringing back the mute swans really was the best course of action. All of the information in this post can be found in collection RS 4/8/4 Box 24.


#ThrowbackThursday – Winter of ’73

Let’s go back to the Winter of 1973-74 with these images from the 1974 Bomb. Iowa State will be seeing snow soon this year, hopefully these images serve as a reminder of the beauty that comes with the cold. The image of one of the swans swimming in a winter Lake LaVerne is one of the most beautiful images I’ve seen in a while and I wanted to share it.

As always, there are digital copies of all the Bombs if anyone is interested in checking out more winters of the past. Also, feel free to stop by the reading room to view the yearbooks in person. Stay warm!


#TimeTravelTuesday – 1970 Student Meeting

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Image from University Photos Box 29

The above image depicts a large group of students gathered in a meeting on central campus in 1970. Student protests were common in the 70s, a time of great political unrest. My favorite thing about this image is just how many students have gathered at this meeting. This is a powerful image of student unity as the crowd raises their fists in the air as a sign of defiance.